Hitman: Contracts - Xbox

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Hitman: Contracts (Xbox)
Also for: PC, PS2
Viewed: 3D Third-person, over the shoulder Genre:
Strategy: Stealth
Media: CD Arcade origin:No
Developer: Io-Interactive Soft. Co.: Io-Interactive
Publishers: Eidos (GB)
Released: 30 Apr 2004 (GB)
Ratings: PEGI 16+
No Accessories: No Accessories


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The term 'stealth-em-up' is a phrase becoming more common by the year in the 3D gaming age. It's safe to say that the genre was brought to life by Konami's Metal Gear Solid, and ever since, the stealth-game remains as a favourite of many developers. Games such as Splinter Cell have expanded on previous stealth efforts, and there are many others in the pipeline. But just how many of them deserve to be branded as genuine stealth games? One game we do know to be deserving of such a tag is Eidos' third Hitman offering - Contracts.

With regards to story, Contracts is something of a departure from previous games. Set in a world where Agent 47 is suffering from a series of unpredictable flashbacks, players get to look inside the mind of a killer and effectively assume control the memories of his past 'adventures'.

The very first level in fact, is one chosen from the original Hitman game of 2000. But players convinced that Contracts is nothing more than a 'best of' release are mistaken. While there are a couple of levels Hitman veterans will recognise, most are previously unseen. It may be a retrospective point of view, but that doesn't matter.

What does matter is level design. It's usually the single most important attribute of any stealth game, and like Hitman and Hitman 2, this is where Contracts excels. The winning formula of the previous instalments remains intact for the IO-developed sequel, and players of previous games will understand the importance of this.

What makes the Hitman series a great series is the non-linear level design and freedom of choice. Yes, the game is linear when going from one level to the next, but gameplay within these given levels is completely free. Superbly designed, each of the levels is extensive, offering several different paths and several more means to complete them. Players have to make their own decisions - it not only makes the game hugely playable, it also gives it great replay value.

There are several new goodies for players to get to grips with too. There's a selection of new weapons included, the most memorable of which are of the meathook and pillow. Unsurprisingly, the pillow can be used to suffocate unwitting foes with their backs turned, but incredibly, players can also reduce suspicion by concealing their pistols and shooting though the pillow for flawless kills.

Contracts isn't the giant leap that Hitman 2 was to Hitman, but it doesn't have to be. Hitman 2 was a great gaming experience, and so is Contracts.


Hitman: Contracts - Xbox Artwork

Hitman: Contracts - Xbox Artwork

Hitman: Contracts - Xbox Artwork

Hitman: Contracts - Xbox Artwork